Friday, July 18, 2014

Jakarta Diaries : 8 : Bandung Volcano And Craters

My trip to Indonesia was almost over. I had a flight on Monday, and a last weekend to enjoy. We made a plan to visit the volcano site and craters in Bandung, a place around 140 kms from Jakarta.

For the first time, I did not have issue to find company to go on a trip. Two new people Ashish and Ankita joined our team in office, and they were happy to come along. So totally 4 of us, Ashish, Ankita, Meenakshi and me went for this memorable trip.

We enjoyed the journey as well as the places we visited. This time our driver was Gebe, another pleasant and funny Indonesian man. Initially he played some Indonesian songs, later we took out our mobiles and started playing Indian songs. Gebe, requested us to play his favorite Indian song, none other than Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

Luckily, one of us had that in mobile, and we were able to fulfill his request. He was delighted, and expressed his pleasure with singing few lines from that song. He made few other requests too, but we could not make out which songs he was referring too.

Once the Indian songs started playing, it did not take us long to start singing ourselves. And we started the all time favorite pastime of Indians in trips.. The Antakshari. Because of this it did not feel like travelling in Indonesia. It was just like home. For the first time, the journey was as enjoyable as much as the destinations.

We were alternating between singing songs and playing them on mobiles. Gebe was enjoying too. He used to catch the repeated lines in songs, and sing it. It was fun. :)

But we were lost in the Indian music, and Indonesian roads. There was confusion between the place we asked to go, and the place he knew. We took a few wrong turns, spent around half an hour in this, and then we came to know that we both were referring to same place. :D Communication problems I tell you.

Finally we reached the first spot, a view of the volcanic mountains and lake from a distant hill. It was unique. Mountains created of a very different kind of stones and rocks, smoke coming out from many places, a lake with water or some other liquid of really strange color, and an odor like in chemical laboratory. 

It was not like the live volcano we see in movies. Obviously it is not safe and people will not be allowed to enter such live volcano. The volcano here erupted around 30 years ago.

You can go hiking on those mountains too. We climbed a bit, but didn't go far as we didn't have that much time.

The next spot was where you can actually walk through the mountains, spend some time around in hot water springs. To go to that site you have to walk for 20-30 minutes through beautiful forests. A local guide is compulsory here. We hired one, but rather than sharing information, he was more interested in exhibiting his knowledge of Hindi and learning some more from us.

On the way we saw many tall trees, one of which was more than 300 years old, the guide told us. The walk was really enjoyable and reminded me of the monsoon treks we do in India on many forts around.

Here, there are many hot water ponds, of varying temperature. Some are very hot, where you can boil eggs. The local people sell eggs here, obviously pretty costly than what you would pay in normal place. We too, bought few eggs and enjoyed boiled eggs from volcano.

In some ponds, you can dip your feet and relax for some time. According to guides, the sand here contains sulfur and is good for skin. Some people also provide massage with that solution. It is also available in bottle packs for sale. Ladies in my group were in two minds whether to apply on their face or not. They might have noticed the look on our faces, and decided to buy the bottle and try it at home.

We bought some wooden artwork in the stall nearby, and left for Jakarta. We had our lunch on the way. We were stuck in traffic, and it was pretty dark when we reached our hotel. Although the volcano wasn't as expected, the site was still a unique place, and the journey was definitely enjoyable. :)